Last season the Celtics grabbed the 4th fewest rebounds in the league (42 per game).
This season they’ve grabbed the 2nd most (47.6).
How did this happen? With the possible exceptions of Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris (who are each only averaging 5.7 boards a game), the Celtics didn’t add anyone to the roster that you would identify as a rebounding specialist. In fact, rebounding seemed to be an area of weakness that the team didn’t specifically address in the eventful offseason.
What the Celtics did was put together a long, athletic roster that has seemingly prioritized rebounding in a way that last year’s team did not.
Paul Flannery goes into a little detail as to why this may be.
This is truly a team-wide concern that goes beyond individual contributions. The C’s box out as aggressively as any team in the league and because they switch so much they are rarely caught behind the action recovering from double teams. There are fewer cheap points to be had and they are so fast and athletic that they can still run in transition without leaking out for fast breaks.
It’s all connected, as they say.
Al Horford is leading the way with 8.8 boards, which would be his highest mark since the 2013-14 season. Jaylen Brown (6.7) and Jayson Tatum (5.7) are surprisingly spry on the boards as well from the forward positions. Then there’s the guard duo of Terry Rozier III (5.1) and Marcus Smart (4.4) that rebound remarkably well for guards, but for very different reasons. As you might expect, Smart can bully people on boxouts and aggressively tracks down loose balls. Rozier, on the other hand, simply outjumps the competition, usually springing straight up in the air like Luke Skywalker escaping the carbon freeze chamber.
It has been a team-wide effort and the results speak for themselves. I had expected the team to rebound a little better (because there’s only one way to go from the bottom) but I wasn’t expecting quite this kind of leap up the standings.